There is no denying the epic-ness of this city wedding, I mean, our gorgeous couple got married in St Paul’s Cathedral for goodness sake, yep you heard me right, St Paul’s Cathedral. Come on it can’t get much more immense than that!
It’s incredibly elegant and stylish in every way with Bride Rebecca wearing an absolutely stunning Martina Liana gown with the prettiest lace sleeves. Her classic peach rose bouquet matches the bridesmaids ASOS gowns perfectly and adds a subtle pop of colour to the sophisticated surroundings, and the images captured by Chris Barber Photography of the couple amongst the Cathedral’s historic architecture and London’s modern skyline are simply breathtaking.
Serious peach perfection and wedding goals right here folks!
…and then all of a sudden I was walking down the aisle. I say walking, I mean clinging on to Nick (legend of a friend) for dear life, heart-booming, knees knocking desperately trying to look composed. And then I arrived at Nick (the soon-to-be husband) and everything was silent and peaceful (which is strange as all our friends and family were belting out Oh Come All Ye Faithful!). And then Nicky (stick with me, this one’s the vicar) welcomed us, married us, advised, encouraged and teased us, prayed for us and blessed us. It was beautiful and poignant, faith-filled and glorious… then the ushers pelted me so hard with my home-made confetti, I thought I was going to fall over!
The rest is a blur of the people that we love, dressed in the colours that I love (oh yes, there was a dress code of “monochrome and metallic”), in the city that we love, celebrating…
I know it’s usually one of us from Rock My Wedding who leads into a real wedding, but those words from Calandre made for such a perfect introduction.
Nick and Calandre married on a sunny Saturday at St Augustine’s Church, South Kensington, London.
The reception took place at one of my favourite venues – The Royal Exchange. And to show this venue off to it’s full fashionable glory, Nick and Calandre employed the services of Ann-Kathrin Koch.
Now, back to Calandre…
An Old Family Friend
The Rev Nicky Lee married us. He’s an old family friend, the vicar at our church and he and his wife, Sila, were our marriage prep couple on the Marriage Course. It was so wonderful to have someone who knew us so well marry us. Generous friends played the organ, organised the choir and headed up the worship band.
The ceremony was certainly the most important part of the day for us and received the most attention in our preparations. Our orders of service matched our deep copper invitations, beautifully done by Amadeo.
Then we all headed over to the City to The Royal Exchange. The overarching theme was vintage London glamour and the venue was perfect. In keeping with the theme, my mum surprised us with a vintage black cab for the day which was incredible!!
Last Supper bought all my ideas to life – we opted for incredible cocktails, champagne saucers, scrummy canapés and jazz jazz jazz. We really wanted the whole day to be all about our friends in relaxed yet glamorous atmosphere.
Cathedral Length Drama
I’m utterly spoilt as my dress was Vera Wang. It was the flowers cascading around the skirt and the dusty taupe sash that did it. And the veil. The cathedral length drama turned me from girl in a great dress to bride, in a second. I’d imagined vintage lace, drop waists and long sleeves but ended up in strapless and frothy, and utterly original.
Til Death Us Do Part
I love rose gold and so wore beautiful rose gold earrings from Monica Vinader which were given to me by my hens. I also wore my Oma’s engagement ring which I had re-sized by Sophie Breitmeyer who did my engagement ring and our wedding rings. I loved wearing something that connected us to a marriage that really lasted ‘til death us do part’.
What I didn’t know is that your feet don’t get sore on cloud nine so I wore ‘sensible’ LK Bennett snakeskin kitten heels bought in the sale before I even had a dress (the joy of having size 4 1/2 feet). Gorgeous. I’ll certainly be wearing those again, but only on special occasions!
Blush Blush Blush
My inner bride and I didn’t actually meet until I was walking down the aisle. So some pros had to help me out. A friend, Katie Service, from university did my make-up (with some prior assistance from Hannah at Love Lash).
So lots of the palest foundation ever made, heaped browns on the eyes and blush blush blush. Nicole from Headmasters in Fulham managed to convert my photos and hand-gestures into something elegant that was still looking great at 3:30am as we danced the night away!
Home Made Confetti
My mother’s family are Dutch and the wedding certainly captivated my inner florist. I wish I had done the flowers myself when I discovered the New Covent Garden Flower Market with a great variety of blooms, cheeky stallholders and the pleasure of negotiating.
As it was we had Jane Packer who created elegant and simple flowers – my bouquet (sandstorm and amnesia roses), the boys button holes (sandstorm roses), and baby’s breath garlands on the church kneeler and on the candelabras used for the supper. I was very clear on what we wanted and they executed it all beautifully.
I did, with help from my sister-in-law and Best Girls, make the confetti, which was a real hit! I went to the flower market, hunted down yummy yellow and coffeebreak roses, and dried them hanging off a laundry rack. Weeks later, we stripped them, crunched them and sprayed the leaves copper. I then made cones from the Financial Times and we stuffed metal boxes full of them. Brilliant photos resulted!
The girls also helped me to make a flower table to ‘float’ the table plan on. Bless them, getting on board with all my bonkers ideas! I’d seen it somewhere and, thanks to some of their creative genius, we made it happen. And it looked as good as I had hoped.
Glamorous In The Extreme
Oh the theme! I didn’t have traditional bridesmaids but decided to buy my two best girls dresses as gifts to say thank you for everything and to ‘rock the theme’! After a day of frankly depressing changing rooms, boring boring dresses, we happened upon some seriously sparkly numbers in Jigsaw. Two different colours, and glamorous in the extreme. If I’m honest, frankly jealous. The girls looked totally gorgeous.
Nick had six ushers. They all wore morning suits (either their own or hired) and then we hired them buff waistcoats from Moss Bros. They wore knitted skinny ties in either deep grey or copper (which also doubled up as gifts) that we had made by a sweet lady in deepest Hampshire. They seemed to go down a storm. Nick also treated his best man to some engraved cufflinks (ah, bromance!).
There was no question that Nick would wear anything other than a morning suit. But we had great fun finding a waistcoat, having the silk back changed and so on. Nick had a shirt made at a Suit that Fits as I couldn’t find a penny collar, double cuff white shirt anywhere. It was a little extravagant but such fun getting into the world of tailoring. And the treat was that I hadn’t seen the entire ensemble together until the day, although when walking down the aisle all I really noticed was his grin!
Having photographed a fair few weddings myself, and being a great photography lover, finding a photographer became, frankly, obsessive. After hunting and hunting and contacting quite a few, I happened upon Ann-Kathrin Koch’s work on RMW! The photoshoot was brides in a winter woodland, wearing cashmere sweaters, blowing glitter at each other. The light and atmosphere in the photos was simply tangible. A quick look at her website and a chat on skype and I was hooked.
The photos from our engagement shoot are breathtaking. I really wanted the pictures to be works of art where we happened to be the subject. And Ann offered even more than I could have hoped. Lots of reportage shots, lovely details and atmosphere. Ann is warm and funny, utterly unobtrusive but seemingly omnipresent! Deciding which pictures to put up on our walls is proving a near impossible feat!
The Last Supper
Nick and I are known for our love of cheese so what better than a ‘cheese-cake’ hunted down from the Fine Cheese Company, they have a huge selection of cakes to choose from. People are still talking about it and the pictures speak for themselves. It was, of course, Dominic at Last Supper that turned an interesting idea into a feast. After an Italian style supper of meat platters, delicious salads and the most extraordinary pasta anyone has ever eaten, for pudding he added figs, grapes, quince and yummy biscuits alongside macaroons and tiny heavenly chocolate tarts.
Unbeknown to most, my and Nick’s first date at university was to see Trouser Jazz, a hugely talented jazz band made up of friends from school and university. We asked them to play at our reception and they very very kindly did so as a ‘comeback gig’ Take That style, all grown-up and even better than you remembered. I think that was the icing on the cake and totally swept up the theme and bought it to life. Hugely sentimental to Nick and me and everyone thought they were amazing.
Why Don’t You
Our first dance was to Gramaphonedzie’s “Why Don’t You” which to our best man’s horror (sentimental old fool), held no great significance to us. Instead it provided a Peggy Lee jazz introduction where Nick whirled me around the floor like a pro (he’s got to have been secretly practicing) before we were hit with a wave of dance music and friends. Perfect song for the moment. And the best man will be pleased to know that it’s sentimental now!
A Supper Party
We wanted a glamorous but relaxed atmosphere at the supper. More like lots of little supper-parties really so we designated two people on each table to host, get the conversation flowing and the food dished out. We had around 180 people to the church and drinks then a select 100 stayed on for supper so it really was our nearest and dearest. Favours, therefore, weren’t really on the agenda – bit too weddingy!
Monochromes and Metallics
Both the church and the venue were glorious and needed absolutely nothing doing to them. Our guests were our decoration, all dressed to the nines in monochromes and metallics. It was even better than I had imagined.
Love And Joy
You can get married at any time, anywhere. The thing that makes it come to life are the people. We are blessed with such wonderful family and friends and having them all there was the highlight. It took my breath away as I walked down the aisle and I am still taking all the love and joy in.
Obviously, my mother was unbelievably generous but for us the day was about our faith, our creativity and our community.
Invest In Your Marriage
So, the best piece of advice that I can give is this – for every hour that you spend planning the wedding/doing wed-min, spend an hour investing in your marriage. It keeps you in good perspective and meant, for us anyway, that by the time W-day came around, we were more in love than we had ever been and ready for the adventure of marriage. People talk about your wedding day being the Best Day of Your Life. I’m not sure I agree. It’s better. It’s a celebration of the promise of all the days and years that are to come.
Ann told me that this is one of the most glamorous weddings she has ever had the privilege to shoot… and I can totally see why.
A perfect addition to our Fashion Week here at Rock My Wedding this wedding has it all. A fantastic venue, a gorgeous dress, some lovely individual touches too. The floating floral table plan is a corker.
Above all that, beyond the fashion and fabulousness there is true commitment, true love and true respect for what a wedding should stand for.
Our couple today used ambient lighting to change the appearance of their location for the various elements of their day. And looking at these amazing pictures from Christian Ward Photography, you can see how The Royal Exchange cleverly transforms from wedding venue, through to elegant dining room before finally becoming a full on night club.
She Knew My Style
I wore a traditional sari which was made for me in Lahore, Pakistan by a family friend who is a designer. Some might think it was high risk because my time in Pakistan was limited and I pretty much decided on my wedding sari based on a swatch but she has been making outfits for me and my family for some time (and still doing so) so she knew my style and understood exactly what I wanted. And it worked because I absolutely love my wedding sari.
I wore the jewellery that my mother in law wore at her wedding and which her late father had bought her. I was honoured to have worn something of such nostalgic value.
A Hint Of Bling
My shoes were diamante cream sling backs. Just enough bling to go with the sari!
A fabulous artist called Gini Bhogal did my hair and make-up. I had only one make-up trial and that was with Gini and we got on very well and I just knew she would be great… and she was. When my 7 year old nephew came in to see me when I was ready he did not recognise me. When I asked him why he said: “your hair looks big” (I took that as a compliment)!
Elegant And Classical
Nicola Eve at Flowers by Eve did a fabulous job with the flowers. She was recommended by Zain’s colleague and we fell in love with her website. She offers a wonderful personalised service and is happy to visit you at home and take time to talk through styles.
We wanted to create an elegant and classical “white wedding look” so we opted for white roses, lilies and hydrangea in tall slim vases with tea lights. Zain chose white cala lilies for button holes and I had vintage baby pink roses to add a touch of colour. My flower girls had wicker baskets bursting with silk rose petals.
We bought the Groomsmen outfits and their ties and cuff links matched Zain’s . We bought the Flower Girl dresses from Debenhams, which were white and long. I absolutely loved them and so did all of the girls: I was thrilled when my niece called (and still calls) it her princess dress. Like a true princess she asked for a tiara but we settled on a white rose flower headband. Seriously cute!
Zain opted to wear a lounge suit rather than a morning suit. His suit and shirt were from Hackett and his tie from Pal Zileri. He had been looking for a very specific colour and style of tie so we were very pleased to have stumbled on it in Pal Zileri.
Crisp, Natural Photos
We used Christian Ward Photography – in fact we were lucky enough to find Christian and Erica on Rock My Wedding and when we saw their photos we immediately fell in love with their style. We had spent a lot of time researching photographers because having great photos to capture everything about the day was very important to us.
Christian and Erica are masterful at taking crisp, natural photos which take advantage of light and seem to really capture the spirit of a wedding. They are also extremely friendly people so it was an easy choice.
Cakes For Fun
The cake was made to order by Cakes for Fun in Putney – it was a white square tiered sponge cake with lemon buttercream decorated with a green ribbon around each tier and cascading lilies on top. I wanted a classic cake with not too much going on and was very happy with it. We had quite a few tastings before deciding on it, which was great fun because I love cake!
Busking the Night Away
We chose to have live singers at the drinks reception – we found them busking in our local town centre and were so impressed that we asked them to come along and sing at our wedding. Many people thought we were crazy! but were really impressed when these guys (Lloyd and Jon) performed on the day.
For the dance floor part of the evening, we wanted this to be as much like a nightclub (to the extent that it was achievable in a Grade I Listed building in the City of London) so we opted for a DJ and special lighting. To our surprise it worked and a lot of our friends commented on the nightclub feel to the end of the night, which was a massive contrast to the white wedding which preceded it. We have Elia Nicolas and Kristian Ardley at Beyond Certainty to thank for making this work!
Simple And Powerful
We choose the song “You are the Best Thing” by Ray La Montagne for our first dance. It does not have any special significance, but is a song both of us love and we identify with its simple but powerful lyrics. It is also very upbeat and fun to dance to which I think sort of symbolises our relationship.
Lighting The Way
With a venue like the Royal Exchange we did not need to do much to it. We focused a lot on lighting because a touch of colour on stone pillars looks fantastic. The Royal Exchange invited us to a number of their private events so we could get ideas for our wedding and so we could see what the venue was capable of. From these many trips we knew lighting was key and we worked closely with Elia Nicolas at Beyond Certainty who arranged for special uplighters that changed colour throughout the day: we had amber for the ceremony and early evening, burnt orange during dinner and red for the late night dancing!
The team at The Royal Exchange led by Hannah Walley were superb throughout the organisation process and arranged for our drinks reception on the Mezzanine floor to be lit up beautifully with candles. It really added to the intimate chic feel of the reception.
We Planned Everything Together
I have always said that that marrying the one you love, surrounded by your nearest and dearest, will be great no matter what you do. However, when I started planning the wedding I realised that I would never get the chance to celebrate such a wonderful occasion again so I decided to make it even greater…
I think my top tip is make sure you plan and design your wedding around what you want rather than what you think your guests will like because that is the only way to make it your own. Friends of mine had said that they spent so much time planning the major things that they ran out of steam when it came to the detail. I was determined to avoid this and I am pleased to say that I was successful and took my time over detail, which I absolutely loved because it allowed me to put my personal stamp on the day.
For example, I have a sweet tooth the size of my head so sweets were a must at my wedding (which my friends found hilarious). Zain loves music and he spent a long, long, long time preparing the playlist and it was just perfect. I was very lucky because Zain was very involved and we planned everything together and our relationship got stronger for it. Because of our joint effort it very much felt like our day and I think that for me is what made it truly unique. It just so happened that we agreed on everything which I took as a very good sign for our times to come…
I have a soft spot for a contemporary city wedding, and this one is pressing all the right urban chic buttons. The Lighting is a masterpiece but so too is the venue its self – that massive open space and dizzyingly high ceiling was the perfect choice for a contemporary cool affair such as this.
I also love the fact that Zain and Osma hired buskers as their wedding entertainment – it just goes to show that you should always be on the look out for that perfect wedding vendor or supplier, because you can never be sure where you will find a hidden gem.